Saturday Morning Tea

jasminewhitemonkeywetleaf121016

Good morning, dear tea friends! A frigid wind is blowing in from the north and it’s beginning to feel more December-like around here. A great time for drinking lots of tea.

I came across a lovely tea this week, a perfect selection to slow down with and, hopefully, ease the stress that sometimes comes with the holiday season. Plus, I love its name – Jasmine White Monkey. From Fujian province in China, this silver tip green tea has been scented with jasmine flowers.

jasminewhitemonkeydryleaf121016

The tea leaves are plucked in the springtime, processed as green tea and then stored until the jasmine plants get ready to bloom in the summer. The flower buds are plucked in the early morning and kept cool all day. As early evening approaches, the flower buds are mixed with the tea leaves. As the night blooming jasmine flowers open, the tea leaves absorb their scent. This process is repeated every day over the course of a week. Quite a bit of dedicated work goes into creating this unique tea.

jasminewhitemonkeysteep121016

Most of the time, the dried flowers are separated from the leaves after scenting. Sometimes, the dried blossoms are left mixed in with the tea leaves. Since they’re dried out, their scent is gone so perhaps it’s for decoration? I find that the dried flowers may lend a sourness to the tea liquor so I prefer just the scented leaves for steeping my tea.

I steeped the leaves for 3 minutes using 180F spring water. As the leaves steeped, my kitchen smelled like a spring garden. mmmm….

jasminewhitemonkeyteapot121016

The leaves infused a golden wheat colored liquor. This tea is much more robust than some of the delicate jasmine selections. You can really taste the green tea so the jasmine scenting isn’t the predominant flavor. These two flavors, vegetal and floral, balance nicely. I also found a balance of sweetness with astringency that lingers into the finish.

jasminewhitemonkeyteabowl121016

This afternoon, I’m getting together with some dear art friends who I haven’t seen in years. Just like taking a break and sitting down with a cup of tea, it’s important to jump off the carousel of busy day-to-day life and connect with good friends. It rejuvenates my spirit.

Enjoy the season and many delicious cups of tea!

Saturday Morning Tea

mistvalleynepalwetleaf112616

Good morning, dear tea friends! A heavy dampness hangs over this late fall morning, and I eagerly reach for my glass teapot to start my morning tea ritual. Today I’ve chosen a rich, fruity selection from Nepal. This tea is from the Mist Valley Estate, located at an elevation of 4,200 feet in Jitpur, Ilam district, eastern Nepal.

I’ve read that Nepal started growing tea from seeds gifted to the Prime Minister from the Chinese Emperor many years ago. Unfortunately, due to political turmoil and economic struggle under an autocratic dynasty, the tea industry failed to grow there at that time.

mistvalleynepaldryleaf112616

In the 1950s, a new democratic constitution was written in Nepal causing a shift in the political system there and opening up the country to the rest of the world. The tea industry started to grow with help from private and public investment and has been growing there ever since.

I steeped the tippy leaves for 3 minutes with boiling point (212F) water.

mistvalleynepalsteep112616

If you love a second flush Darjeeling then you will love this selection. The aroma is fragrant with dark grape notes. These notes carry on into the cup where they are joined by notes of stone fruit.

mistvalleynepalteapot112616

I love the balance of honey sweetness and brisk astringency in the red-amber liquor.

Nepal produces some amazing teas, a great value compared to their pricier Darjeeling cousins.

mistvalleynepalteabowl112616

The warmth of this rich tea in my cup has chased away the chilly damp and restored my spirits.

What’s in your cup today?

“Cultivate the habit of being grateful for every good thing that comes to you, and to give thanks continuously. And because all things have contributed to your advancement, you should include all things in your gratitude.”

~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Saturday Morning Tea

jaoanesegyokuroteapot111216

Good morning, dear tea friends! It may be autumn outside, with dried up leaves rattling against my house like old bones, but inside I have springtime in my cup. My morning cuppa is a beautiful selection from Japan, called Organic Gyokuro.

Produced in the spring from the first plucking of the tea bush, Gyokuro is one of Japan’s most treasured teas.

japanesegyokurodryleaf111216

What distinguishes a Gyokuro tea from other Japanese green teas is that as soon as the bushes start to flush with new growth, they are shaded. The first shading method, called tana, is when a black netting is thrown over trellises that have been built up around the rows of tea bushes. The second method, called jikagise, is when each bush is individually wrapped in cloth.

japanesegyokurosteep111216

The bushes will grow in the shade for approximately 3 weeks.  The shading increases the chlorophyll production which in turn affects the balance of caffeine, flavanols and sugar in the leaf.  The absence of photosynthesis also increases the theanine component in the leaf.  Theanine is an amino acid that gives tea its vegetal taste.  With the increase of theanine, Gyokuro tea is quite vegetal.

japanesegyokurowetleaf111216

I steeped the leaves for 3 minutes in just under 180F water.

The dry leaves have a fresh, nutty aroma, however, when submerged in water, the leaves impart a sweet, vegetal fragrance.

japanesegyokuroteamug111216

The infusion is the color of light yellow jade, sparkling in the sunlight streaming through my windows. The cup is rich and brothy with a strong umami flavor, complemented by a smooth sweetness. Truly a Japanese tea lover’s delight!

Enjoy your weekend and your tea!

“You expected to be sad in the fall. Part of you died each year when the leaves fell from the trees and their branches were bare against the wind and the cold, wintery light. But you knew there would always be the spring, as you knew the river would flow again after it was frozen. When the cold rains kept on and killed the spring, it was as though a young person died for no reason.”

~Ernest Hemingway, A Moveable Feast

Saturday Morning Tea

temisikkimdryleaf102916

Good morning, dear tea friends! I’m so sorry for missing my tea post last week. Last Friday night, my basement flooded with 4 feet of water from a tremendous rainstorm, and I lost power and heat. In fact, I still don’t have heat but the good news is that will be fixed this week. Going through an experience like this, all I can say is – thank goodness for tea!!!!! This morning’s cuppa is a lovely black tea from the Temi Estate in Sikkim, a state in northeast India just north of Darjeeling.

Originally a Sherpa village, the Temi Tea Garden was established by the Sikkim government in 1969 and is the only tea estate there. Its gently sloping hills cover about 440 acres.

temisikkimsteep102916

I steeped the leaves for 3 1/2 minutes in boiling point (212F) water. As the tea steeped, a rich fruity fragrance emerged from my glass teapot.

temisikkimwetleaf102916

The leaf is tippy and infuses to a gorgeous dark amber color, much like a second flush Darjeeling.

temisikkimteapot102916

The cup is brisk yet sweet with notes of honey and fruit. It’s rich enough for a dash of milk.

temisikkimteamug102916

A hot cup of tea is so welcome in a chilly house! Until next time, enjoy your tea and have a Happy Halloween!

“The wind outside nested in each tree, prowled the sidewalks in invisible treads like unseen cats.
Tom Skelton shivered. Anyone could see that the wind was a special wind this night, and the darkness took on a special feel because it was All Hallows’ Eve. Everything seemed cut from soft black velvet or gold or orange velvet. Smoke panted up out of a thousand chimneys like the plumes of funeral parades. From kitchen windows drifted two pumpkin smells: gourds being cut, pies being baked.”

~Ray Bradbury, The Halloween Tree

 

Saturday Morning Tea

lowcountryceylondryleaf100816

Good morning, dear tea friends! As I gaze outside my window with my morning cuppa in hand, I see a blanket of light gray clouds tenting over a green landscape that’s starting to show its fall colors here and there. I’ve chosen a black tea from Sri Lanka today, called Ceylon Low Country.

Low grown Ceylon tea comes from southern Sri Lanka, where the elevations of tea growing areas are anywhere from sea level to 2,000 feet. With a warm climate and fertile soil, it’s an ideal place for the tea plants to thrive.

lowcountryceylonsteep100816

I steeped the leaves for 4 minutes in boiling point (212F) water.

The aroma wafting up from the steeping leaves is bright and toasty with a hint of spiciness.

lowcountryceylonwetleaf100816

The color of the tea liquor is striking, a beautiful coppery red.

lowcountryceylonteapot100816

The flavor has that Ceylon brightness with a wonderful spicy richness enveloping it. A sweetness, like dark sugar, grows as the tea cools. The mouth feel is fairly robust with a dryness like a fine red wine. This tea would stand up well to milk and sweetener.

lowcountryceylonteabowl100816

A great choice for those cooler fall days.

See you in 2 weeks!

“I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.”

L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables

Saturday Morning Tea

balasunest2ndfldarjteacup092416

Good morning, dear tea friends! The first day of fall has come and gone this week and the air has shifted from warm and sultry to crisp and cool. Great sleeping weather.

In my cup this morning is a second flush Darjeeling from the Balasun Estate, located in northeast India. This lovely tea was harvested this year. You can read my post about the 2016 first flush Darjeeling from Balasun Estate here.

balasunest2ndfldarjdryleaf092416

The leaf is beautiful, bold with lots of silvery tips mixed in.

The Balasun estate is located near the tiny hamlet town of Sonada, one of the stations for the heritage Darjeeling Toy train. Built between 1879 and 1881, the 48-mile narrow gauge railway runs between Darjeeling and New Jalpaiguri in West Bengal. This well-loved railway is a delight to travelers and rail enthusiasts.

balasunest2ndfldarjsteep092416

I steeped the leaves for 3 minutes in boiling point (212F) water.

A deep fruity aroma revealed itself as the leaves released their essence into the water.

balasunest2ndfldarjteapot092416

The bright amber infusion is rich and flavorful with ripe fruit notes, like crisp apples and juicy peaches. A warm toastiness envelops the fruity quality in both the aroma and the flavor.

balasunest2ndfldarjwetleaf092416

This is the perfect selection to go with a warm apple crisp or apple pie, made from an apple picking adventure, a favorite outing this time of year.

What’s in your cup today?

“Autumn seemed to arrive suddenly that year. The morning of the first September was crisp and golden as an apple.”

~J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

Saturday Morning Tea

jingguspringbudswetleaf091016

Good morning, dear tea friends! It’s a quiet, gray-sky day, a good day for sitting with a cup of tea, and remembering those fallen on that fateful day 15 years ago tomorrow. I have my favorite tea for contemplation, a white tea from China, this selection called Jinggu Spring Buds.

Located in the Pu-Erh prefecture in Yunnan province, Jinggu County has a subtropical, monsoon climate with steep, high mountains, ideal for tea growing. This tea is made up entirely of tender spring tea buds. Beautiful.

jingguspringbudsdryleaf091016

I steeped the buds for 3 minutes in water a little under 180F.

jingguspringbudssteep091016

The aroma is soft and delicate with a toasty, nutty fragrance.

jingguspringbudsteapot091016

The tea liquor is the color of winter wheat.

I stop and pay attention as I take my first sip. Let the tea sit quietly in my mouth for a moment. Let the flavor reveal itself.

It’s light and smooth, silky in the mouth feel. First, I taste a toasty herbaceousness. Next, a nutty hint. The finish imparts a suggestion of green melon but it’s fleeting, doesn’t linger. The toastiness does linger.

As the tea cools, a honey-like sweetness grows, suggesting the possibility of a lovely iced tea.

jingguspringbudsteabowl091016

After a quiet morning spent with my tea, I’m spending the afternoon with my grandchildren today. I love seeing the world through their eyes as we play games and laugh and eat ice cream.

Have a great couple of weeks enjoying many cups of tea!

“No day shall erase you from the memory of time.” ~Virgil